Monday, October 4, 2010


Neil Young is a real piece of work. He's had exceptional moments, and some questionable moments, but his output, taken as a whole, is pretty remarkable. He's recorded 32 "solo" albums (with and without Crazy Horse) since 1969. That doesn't include about a dozen albums with other bands, greatest hits collections, or any of his many live albums. He's a machine. Sure, a few of them have been less thought out than others, but most are interesting and even the less than stellar releases have been quixotic at worst. And that's part of his appeal. He takes chances, and moves on. If some of it sticks to the wall, that's good. They get put in set lists for a few years.

When I first heard that the music on his new album "Le Noise" (le annoying pun on producer Daniel Lanois' surname) would be primarily guitar and effects, my first thought was, "Oh boy, here we go. It's 'Trans' all over again." But, you know what? I'll give him "Trans," and all his other goofy ideas any day, especially if that allows him the space to work on another better album, which is always likely to be different than the last.

The first song of his that I remember hearing was "Cinnamon Girl," in 1970. I wasn't even buying records yet. But it was inescapable, on AM radio if you can believe it. The first record that I actually bought of his was "Harvest" in '72 (my first was listen interrupted by a stomach ache, so I still find it hard to listen to). All along the way, he's been right there. "Long May You Run" was given a new context when it was in the soundtrack of a surf movie, at the Strand Theater. "Tonight's the Night" was part of my personal soundtrack at the Front Street house. "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" was the record that wouldn't leave the turntable for much of the 80's. That's another thing. With his catalog, unless you're a total completest, you find yourself skipping around chronologically. He's been there, good, uneven, and sometimes perfect, all along. And you know a winner, when you later associate it with something. I just got "Zuma." Way late, I know. Shut up, I was saving it.

From Le Noise:
Neil Young - Love and War mp3 at For the Sake of the Song
Neil Young - Angry World mp3 at Surviving the Golden Age
Neil Young - The Hitchhiker video at YouTube
Other Stuff:
Neil Young - Cinnamon Girl mp3 at The Rising Storm
Stills-Young Band - Long May You Run mp3 at Beat Surrender
Neil Young - A Day in the Life (Live) mp3 at Cover Me
Neil Young - Chicago Hurricane (1976 live bootleg) 20 mp3s at Captain's Dead
Neil Young Discography at Wikipedia

No comments: